Vortec V6 Power: 1988 Suzuki Samurai

The 2nd generation Samurai is a compact off-roader from Suzuki, built from 1981-1998.  The Samurai makes a miserable ride on tarmac, but is legendary for its off-road capability, with one beating a Jeep record for highest altitude achieved for a 4-wheeled vehicle at 21,942 ft.  We think the Samurai is a logical choice for someone needing 4WD capabilities as they are cheap, easy to fix and built like small tanks…and the only thing you really need to do is to upgrade the miserable lump they called an engine when it was new.  Find this 1988 Suzuki Samurai offered for $19,500 in Pecos, NM via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!

From the seller:

1988 suzuki samurai

VIN: JS4JC51C4J4213882

condition: excellent

cylinders: 6 cylinders

drive: 4wd

fuel: gas

odometer: 107370

paint color: orange

size: compact

title status: clean

transmission: automatic

type: convertible

1888 Suzuki Samurai V6 Automatic 4X4 Soft Top

While it may sound obscene installing a V6 into a Samurai and increasing the horsepower 4 times, there’s nothing like cruising down the freeway on 35” tires to your next off road adventure without trailing. This is also a very capable vehicle off road and will go places a jeep can’t – like 4 wheeler and ATV trails – and is 100% street legal. This custom build was done professionally by Rocky Road Outfitters in Utah. It is one of the finest examples of a V6 conversion.

Suspension with 10” lift:

Front: Rocky Road JPEater springs over axel combo kit with heavy duty rear Jeep springs. Rear: 3” Samurai leaf springs over axel with custom made torque rods. New long travel Rocky Road engineered custom shocks.


1994 fuel injected 4.3L 190HP GM V6 Vortec engine. New fuel injectors, spark plugs and wires, fuel pump, filter, and starter. 100 amp alternator and a new Optima Red Top battery. New high flow aluminum radiator and high flow Davies Craig electric water pump. Toyota power steering. Megaflow air filter and Airflow snorkel intake system. 2.5” custom exhaust with Megaflow muffler.

Drive Train:

GM 200R4 automatic 4 speed transmission. New Trail Tough 4.6 transfer case with modified double stick shifters for easier shifting and true neutral for towing. New ½ ton GM drivelines and u joints custom built by Northern Colorado Drive Line Service. Power brakes; the rear brake drums have been changed out to Rocky Road disc brakes. All 4 disc brakes have new pads. Rocky Road differential guards. ABR differential locker and on board air compressor. Heavy duty alloy axles with new upgraded Trail Safe ball wiper seals. Incubus Off-Road wheels with 35X12X15” BF Goodrich all-terrain radial tires. Rocky Road 1” wheel spacers for wider stance and better handling.


New Alpine stereo, satellite ready, with 4 marine speakers, under-seat subwoofer and rare Suzuki rear speaker boxes. Clock, volt meter, inside and outside temperature gauge. Custom re-upholstered JX front sears. Large Tuffy locking rear tool box. Aluminum diamond plate interior panels throughout. Herculiner interior coating. Six point custom made roll cage with mounted long handled axe, new 42” powder coated High Lift jack, marine CB and dome light. New Low Range Off Road window regulators, scrapes and weather stripping with tinted windows. Plastic door handles and window cranks have been changed out to metal inside and out. New Smittybilt quick release adjustable door stops.


Audi bronze pearl clearcoat paint. LED headlights with bronze angel eyes. Custom Samurai name plaques. New Rampage soft top with zip out tinted windows. New stainless steel collapsible top bow. Rocky Road fold down windshield with new windshield arms and wipers. Removable doors and doorless mirror brackets. Bushwacker 6” fender flares. ARB Bull Bar custom front bumper with Warn winch, Blue Ox tow bar attachments and electric plug for towing. Rocky Road Crawler ll custom swing out rear bumper with corner rock sliders, 2” receiver hitch, smaller 34X9.5 super swamper spare tire (to keep the size and weight down), Rocky Road Wheel-O-Fortune spare hub and spindle assembly, and two 2.5 gallon Rotopax fuel cells. New Petroworks 15 gallon fuel tank with skid plate. Rocky Road Hi Rock sliders. Rocky Road mudflap kit. IPF Magic fog lights.


Head rests, touch up paint, new hood release cable and hood lock, weather stripping kit, doorless mirror brackets, radiator cap, speedometer cable (broke 9/1999), LED instrument lights and white instrument gauge kit.

I purchased the Samurai in July, 2018 at 103,630 miles. I drove it only 3740 miles. I invested in upgrades (done professionally) more than I drove it. Health issues in 11/1999 forces sale. It has not been driven since.

See a better way to drive offroad? tips@dailyturismo.com